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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ex-Judge Herman Thomas Accused Of Demanding Sexual Favors From Male Inmates

Former Alabama judge Herman Thomas’ trial began Monday (October 4) for the charges of sodomy, kidnapping, sex abuse, extortion, assault and ethics violations stemming from prisoner allegations Thomas demanded sexual favors in exchange for lighter sentences.

Thomas, who stepped down from the bench in 2007 after rumors of these allegations became more frequent, was first accused of such grave misconduct back in 2001 when an inmate filed a lawsuit against him. According to that inmate, back in 1999 Thomas offered to help him with his case in exchange for sex. Both lawsuits were dismissed. Since then other inmates have stepped forward and described incidents of being checked out of jail for meetings with Thomas in his car and private office in the county courthouse. It started with reports of inmates having to pull down their underwear for wooden paddle spankings then reports of alleged oral and anal sex.

While some will like to automatically dismiss the allegations levied against this once distinguished judge, there is some major evidence to back up these claims. There’s jail checkout logs to back up inmates’ claims of trips to see Thomas, paddling marks found on inmate’s bodies, and even one inmate’s sperm found in Thomas’ office carpet. Inmates have also been able to describe Thomas’ office in detail.

The NAACP has defended Thomas and claims race is behind the prosecution. However, Chief Assistant District Attorney Nicki Patterson disputes the claim of race, pointing out each of Thomas’ alleged victims is African-American. When on the bench, Thomas was known for his “enviable political record” as a black Democrat elected and re-elected in a county predominantly white and Republican.

Thomas’ attorney has described the charges against his client as “a high-tech lynching” by some in power in Mobile, Alabama.

Prosecutors have 15 current and former male inmates prepared to testify in the trial. If Thomas is convicted of the more serious charges of sodomy and kidnapping, he can face 20 years to life in prison.

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